The second-largest city in Portugal is not a city to be missed. Put Porto, Portugal on your list of best places in Europe to travel solo and let my ultimate Porto Solo Travel Guide help you plan your Portugal solo trip.
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- Porto Solo Travel Planning Resources
- What is Porto Famous For?
- Porto Solo Travel Packing Essentials
- Best Time to Visit Porto Portugal
- How to Get to Porto Portugal
- How to Get Around Porto
- Is Porto Safe for Solo Travel?
- Best Area to Stay in Porto Solo
- Things to Do Alone in Porto Over 50
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What is Porto Famous For?
There are 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Portugal, with the combined Porto Historic Center, Luis I Bridge and Serra do Pilar being one of them.
Oporto, Portugal, more commonly referred to as “Porto”, is rich in history going back 2000 years to the Romans, who originally dubbed the city Portus (“port”). Today, Porto residents refer to themselves as “Tripeiros”.
Porto lies on the Douro River, the third largest river in the Iberian Peninsula, which is largely responsible for the city’s trade and port industry, and opens to the Atlantic Ocean nearby.
Portugal’s second largest city, Porto is seen as “second” to Lisbon in popularity, but this is changing. Porto has not had been affected or destroyed by earthquakes, like Lisbon, leaving it largely in tact for centuries.
The historic center, mostly consisting of the Baixa and Ribeira districts, is where the majority of the top Porto sites reside and where the tourists flock to.
Tripeiros are very friendly and welcoming. They are eager to share with you the wonders of their city and what their country offers nearby. You won’t be at a loss for things to do in Porto.
Most Tripeiros speak English but it doesn’t hurt to brush up on some Portuguese before you visit. It will only enhance your stay in Porto. Porto is worth visiting for sure.
Is Porto Worth Visiting?
Porto is worth visiting for sure. Don’t discount it on your Portugal solo travel.
If you were thinking of only visiting Lisbon, think again. The train ride from Lisbon to Porto is less than three hours, so I urge you to carve out some extra time for Porto on your over 50 single travel.
Porto Solo Travel Packing Essentials
Best Time to Visit Porto Portugal
Everyone says the best time to visit Porto is May through September. Yes and no. ‘Yes’ to May and September, but ‘no’ to the other summer months.
Porto Weather & Costs
The weather in Porto averages in the 40°s F to 70°s F, with warmest weather in the summer June through August. Summer provides for multiple outdoor activities, but also when it can be more crowded driving up prices.
The winter months of December through February are the coldest and rainiest, with lower costs and outdoor opportunities. If you go, bring an eco-friendly travel umbrella.
Shoulder season months provide good weather, lower tourist costs and good daylight hours. May is said to be one of the best months to visit Porto, but don’t discount after the summer season.
Porto in October, when I was last there, was lovely. I still had to book well in advance for decent accommodation prices. For this Porto Solo Travel Guide, I would recommend May, September and October for your Porto solo visit.
Summertime is not only a good time for Porto weather, it’s also a good time for fun. Porto holds its largest street festival, Festas de São João, in June. In fact, there are many local festivals in June.
I suggest also checking the Porto events calendar to help determine which month is best for your Porto solo travel.
How to Get to Porto Portugal
Accessible by airplane, car, boat, bus and train, Porto is an easy city to get to.
Bus or Train to Porto
Most Porto buses arrive and depart from the Parque das Camélias Terminal, also centrally located.
Flights to Porto
The airport in Porto is Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO), known simply as Porto Airport. Porto receives many direct flights from within the European Union and from outside of Europe.
Portugal Covid Travel Tip
If you are flying into Porto from outside Portugal, be sure to check all Portugal and Porto travel restrictions through your airlines, or your country’s embassy website, and fill out any necessary applications, like Portugal’s Passenger Locator Form, prior to boarding your flight for Portugal.
More Portugal COVID Travel Tips
Porto Airport to City Center
It is less than 20 km from the Porto Airport to Porto city center. There are several ways to get from Porto Airport to Porto.
If you do not have access to an airport shuttle by your hotel, the cheapest and easiest way to get to Porto city center is by the Porto metro.
Porto Airport Metro
When you arrive Porto Airport, follow the signs to the Porto metro. The Aeroporto station is minutes from the airport front door.
Buy a ticket for the E train (purple line), less than 3 €, at one of the machines (you can use a credit card). Then walk upstairs to the platform.
The metro departs the Porto airport every 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the day, and takes about 30 minutes to arrive at the Trindade metro station, in the Baixa district.
Porto Airport Taxi and More
Faster ways, but not by much, to Porto city center are by vehicle.
You can hail a rideshare, like Uber or Bolt, at the Porto Airport, which could cost approximately 10 to 20 € (at time of writing this guide).
Shared and private Porto airport shuttles could cost approximately the same, respectively. Taxis can cost approximately 30 €.
You do have the option to hire a rental car at Porto Airport but then you’ll have to deal with gas and parking within the Porto, which could be limited in the city center. Check with your hotel or hostel first to see if they have parking available.
Eco Travel Tip
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How to Get Around Porto
Once there, it’s doubtful you’d need car transportation within Porto. The best way to get around Porto is by walking, in my humble opinion.
Porto is Walkable
Porto is walkable, but there are a lot of hills. It helps to be in shape to be walking around. I highly recommend wearing light-weight, eco-friendly walking shoes.
Because of the hills, renting an e-bike or electric scooter may give you a boost of energy, if you’re not used to walking on inclines.
Tuk Tuks also make getting around Porto easy. They even offer guided tours. Opt for an electric Tuk Tuk if you can.
Unique Porto Transportation
Porto has some unique, and eco-friendly, methods to get around the city that you may want to consider for a first-time Porto solo visit.
Ride Porto’s Funicular dos Guindais for a scenic and non-exerting way to climb the hills of the historic city center. Across the water, catch views of Porto and beyond from above on a Teleférico de Gaia cable car.
Like Lisbon, the Porto Tram can take you on a tour of the city.
Don’t forget river cruises. Take Douro River boat cruise for unforgettable scenery and soaking up the sun while resting your feet.
Of course, there is always the Porto metro, and bus services, if you want more options to explore Porto or get a little further outside of the city center. In fact, the Porto metro can take you to the beach. It’s only 30 minutes from the Trindade station to the coastal city of Matosinhos. Check the Porto Metro map and schedule.
Depending on how long you stay, you may want consider getting a Porto Card.
Traveling Beyond Porto
If you wish to explore beyond Porto, you always have the bus, train or group tours available.
Is Porto Safe for Solo Travel?
Porto’s crime rate is considered low and considered a safe travel destination.
As always, use a safe, travel day-bag keep your belongings with you at all times, and be watchful of pickpockets in crowded, touristy areas or on public transportation.
I never felt unsafe in Porto as a solo female traveler, even when walking around at night. However, as a general precaution, I ensured my walking routes were well lit and populated. Whether you’re male or female, always avoid dark or secluded streets or alleys when walking alone.
Still, I walked a lot at night by myself in Porto and was fine. If you normally feel uncomfortable being out solo at night, you may want to consider going when the daylight hours are longest so you have more time to explore Porto, Portugal.
Solo Travel Tips
Have WhatsApp on your mobile device(s). Many smaller establishments and activities offices use this as a method of communication making it easier to make inquiries or booking and learn, or notify, of any scheduling changes.
Get the T-Mobile International Plan or something similar in price and features. I no longer work on WiFi only on international travel. I’ll use it when it’s there, but having access to roaming when needed for GPS and Google Maps is a game changer.
Best Area to Stay in Porto Solo
Whether you’re staying a week or a weekend in Porto, or a first-time visitor, I would highly recommend staying within the Baixa (historic city center) and Ribeira districts, within the marked section of the map below.
You could also opt to stay in the Gaia district, on the south side of the Duoro River, but the northern side of the river is more convenient and would cut down on time between attractions, if you are on a short Porto stay.
Oporto Hotels and More
There are multiple accommodations in Porto Portugal across all budget types to choose from. Going in the off season, or booking well in advance, will get you the best Porto prices on any type of accommodation.
Consider booking at a property that either is eco-friendly or sustainably rated, or at least employs these methods into their business.
Hotels in Porto will range from budget to posh.
For location, price, amenities (including free-cancellation), eco-friendly and sustainable operations, and customer reviews and ratings, here are my Porto Solo Travel Guide recommendations (i.e., where I would stay):
- Pestana Porto – A Brasileira, City Center & Heritage Building
- Eurostars Porto Centro
- One Shot Aliados Goldsmith 12
A hostel is great budget option as an accommodation in Porto for solo travel over 50. I would recommend Nice Way Porto Hostel, which is where I stayed on my last Porto solo visit.
Not posh, but equipped with everything I needed (in the hostel and in my private room), Nice Way Porto Hostel is in a great location and has a very friendly and accommodating staff who worked with me beforehand with Covid information, were flexible on my breakfast times around my excursions, and provided great suggestions on what to see and do in Porto.
Things to Do Alone in Porto Over 50
What would a Porto Solo Travel Guide be without listing out some attractions?
Like I said, you will not run out of fantastic things to do alone in Porto, or outside of Porto. Here are some of the top Porto things to do, and where to find them, that you’ll want to consider adding to your over 50 single traveler itinerary.
The historic Porto city center is where most top attractions reside and consists mainly of two neighborhoods: Baixa and Ribeira. Along with the Luis I Bridge and the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar across the river, the historic city center was granted UNESCO World Heritage site status in 1996.
Northern part the historic city center and one of the best places to stay in Porto for first-time or solo travel. It is on a higher elevation than the rest of the city center with its own set of top Porto attractions.
Ribeira (“riverside”) is south of Baixa and on a lower elevation that abuts the Douro River. This southern side of the historic city center is just as picturesque as Baixa, but is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Porto and considered the “heart” of the old town.
Ribeira’s Cais da Ribeira (riverfront promenade) and steep streets are popular for shopping, restaurants, bars and nightlife fun. It is also a popular area to stay in Porto.
Depending on how much time you have in Porto, you may also find yourself in the neighborhoods of Cedofeita Boavista (north of Baixa), Bonfirm (east of Baixa and Ribeira said to be where expats live), and Lodelo do Oro e Massarelos (west of the historic city center).
Vila Nova de Gaia
Commonly referred to as “Gaia”, this town is a municipality of the Porto District and south of Porto easily accessible by foot or public transportation across the Luis I Bridge.
Gaia’s scenic river front hosts shops, restaurants serving fresh fish dishes in outdoor dining settings, and the skyrail that starts near the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar.
Gaia is also home to the many port houses where the port grapes from the Duoro Valley have been received for centuries by way of the Duoro River to make port, Portugal’s signature drink.
Add port tasting in port houses and cellars of Gaia to your Porto solo trip itinerary. Stay for the evening to watch the sunset cast beautiful light upon Ribeira’s colorful buildings.
Landmarks and Points of Interest
Indoor and outdoor Porto landmarks and points of interest are not only unique but can also be free things to do in Porto year-round.
- Dom Luís I Bridge – two-tiered bridge built in 1886 spans across the Douro River between the Ponte Dom Luis I of the Ribeira neighborhood of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.
- Funicular dos Guindais
- Teleférico de Gaia – take a ride on a cable car
- Molhe e Farolim de Felgueiras – point and lighthouse where the river meets the Atlantic.
- Mercado Ferreira Borges – iron and glass landmark building built in the 1880’s that has restaurants and a bar.
- Fonte dos Leões (Fountain of the Lions)
- Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar – former 1550’s monastery
Churches and Cathedrals
- Iglesia de los Clérigos and Clérigos Tower – sweeping Porto views from this Baroque tower.
- Se Catedral (Porto Cathedral) – one of the city’s oldest monuments.
- Pillory of Porto – unique pillar in the Porto Cathedral plaza.
- Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis) – most prominent Gothic monument in Porto.
- Capela das Alamas (Chapel of Souls) – blue-tiled facade chapel.
- Igreja do Carmo (Church of Our Lady of Carmo) – blue tiled facade Baroque church.
- Igreja de San Antonio de los Congregados (Church of Saint Anthony’s Congregation) – across from Bento Train Station.
- Igreja de Santo Ildefonso (Church of St Idelfonso) – Baroque 18th century church near Batalha Square.
History and Architecture
- Câmara Municipal do Porto – Town hall with clocktower offering more views of Porto.
- Palacio da Bolsa (Bolsa Palace) – 19th century Stock Exchange Palace.
- Livraria Lello & Irmão (Lello Bookstore) – known for its beautiful staircase and, mistakenly, as the inspiration for J.K. Rawlings.
- Paço Episcopal do Porto (Paco Episcolal) – former residence of Porto bishops in late Baroque and Rococo style.
- São Bento Station – railway terminal completed in 1916.
- Casa da Musica – concert hall designed by architect Rem Koolhaas.
- Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves – Museum of contemporary art.
- Soares dos Reis – museum founded in 1833 and located in the Carrancas Palace.
- Portuguese Centre of Photography – founded in 1997 and located in a former prison.
- FC Porto Museum – dedicated to the history of the Portuguese association football club FC Porto.
Parks and Gardens, Plazas and Promenades
- Avenida dos Aliados / Liberdade Square – important Porto avenue and square where Porto City Hall resides.
- Cais da Ribeira – Ribeira riverfront.
- Ribeira Square – historical square on the Cais da Ribeira.
- Jardins do Palácio de Cristal – Victorian gardens.
- Parque da Cidade do Porto – (Porto City Park) – largest urban park in Porto.
- Parque de Serralves – sprawling park located at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves.
Eco Travel Tips
Porto is anything but flat, so taking advantage of e-scooter or e-bike rentals or tours are are great ecotourism opportunities in Porto.
Porto Restaurants, Nightlife and Shopping
Within the Porto city center and Gaia are multiple dining and shopping opportunities for single travel over 50.
If you’re on a budget, try shopping fresh produce and grab-and-go bites at a local market like the 2-story Mercado do Bolhão filled with different vendors.
For nightlife, stay within the Ribeira area.
What Food is Porto Known For?
Porto solo travel would not be complete without sampling the local cuisine and drink.
Top things to try are a sanduíche de pernil, a slow roasted pork sandwich on a doughy roll, where the pork has been long simmering in juices, so the sandwich melts in your mouth. Wash it down with a cold, Super Bock lager or stout beer. I had mine at the Casa Guides, a roof-top bar and restaurant frequented by locals.
There’s also the traditional Francesinha (“little French”), a ham and steak sandwich baked with melted cheese on top, akin to the croque monsieur. Some think this dish was originated by the French, but it was actually the Portuguese.
If you like fish, you’re in luck. Right on the water, Porto serves up many dishes made of fresh fish. Try the popular Bacalhau, tasty little croquettes of dried and salted cod.
For sweets or dessert, you must try a Pastel de Nata, the little Portuguese custard tarts, with coffee. Yum!
If custard is not your thing, don’t worry. Porto has desserts galore to choose from.
Of course, Porto would not be complete without trying the local wine of the region, Vinho Verde, and port, Portugal’s signature drink.
Remember, Port is a fortified, dessert wine (some very high in alcohol content). Try it with cheese samplings or a meal, not with dessert.
Port tasting is a must on your solo trip to Porto. Put a trip to the port houses cellars in Gaia on your list. I did a sampling at Porto Cruz on the waterfront. It was lovely.
If you want some other recommendations, here are 5 port cellars in Porto to try.
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Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if my Porto Solo Travel Guide was helpful in planning your solo travel over 50. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!